Chocolate-Peanut Butter Sandwiches
Made by grinding dry-roasted peanuts to a paste, peanut butter is a favorite food of kids and grown-ups alike. It is available in two styles: creamy, or smooth, and chunky, that is, with finely chopped nuts mixed in for texture. Natural peanut butters are made without the additives that ease spreadability. They have a somewhat grainy consistency and a layer of oil on top that must be stirred in before using.
For the cookies:
- 12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/8 tsp. salt
For the peanut butter filling:
- 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed or a wooden spoon, beat the butter until fluffy and pale yellow. Add the granulated sugar and continue beating until the mixture is no longer gritty when rubbed between your finger and thumb. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat on low speed or stir until blended.
Over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat or stir until just blended. Cover and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.
With dampened hands, shape the dough into 3/4-inch balls and place on the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart. Using a spatula or the bottom of a glass that has been dusted with cocoa to prevent sticking, press down on each dough ball to flatten slightly. Bake the cookies until firm to the touch, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks and let cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the peanut butter filling: In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter and vanilla. Beat with the spoon until blended and smooth. Cover and refrigerate until the cookies are cool.
Using a small offset spatula, spread the flat side of half the cookies with 1 1/2 tsp. of the peanut butter filling. Top each with a second cookie, flat side down. Press lightly to make a cookie sandwich. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
Storage Tip: Store these cookies in an airtight container in a cool place, or refrigerate in warm weather.
Adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book, Edited by Chuck Williams (Oxmoor House, 2009).